Dutch government 'regrets' British decision on Wilders
Dutch government officials in disagreement with London's decision to deny Wilders entry.
THE HAGUE—The Dutch government said Thursday it "regrets" Britain's decision to refuse entry to a far-right Dutch politician facing trial at home for likening Islam to Nazism.
"The Netherlands regrets the decision. We are of the opinion that any Dutch parliamentarian should be able to travel freely in the European Union," foreign ministry spokesman Christof Prommersberger told AFP.
"The United Kingdom has the right, just like the Netherlands, to refuse people entry for reasons of safety and security. Of course we acknowledge that right, but we do not agree with the way it is being exercised in this case."
Geert Wilders, 45, leads the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), which has nine seats out of 150 in parliament.
He said he had been invited by members of the House of Lords to screen his controversial film, 'Fitna," and join a debate on freedom of speech.
He flew to Heathrow Thursday despite being informed by British authorities earlier in the week that he would be refused entry for posing a "genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat to one of the fundamental interests of society."
Wilders' 17-minute film, which likens Islam to Nazism and links the religion to terror attacks, has been described as "offensively anti-Islamic" by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and has attracted wide-spread criticism.
On his party website, Wilders described the refusal as "terrible" and claimed he was being held in a detention centre at Heathrow.
"This is not only a slap in the face for me personally, but also for freedom of speech," he said.